Local MP, Rob Butler, holds debate in Parliament on Water Safety

Press release 13 July 2023

Local MP holds debate in Parliament on water safety  following death of Bucks girl at Bournemouth beach.

Rob Butler, the MP for Aylesbury, today led a special debate in the House of Commons to raise awareness of water safety as the summer holidays approach.

It follows the tragic drowning of 12 year old Bucks schoolgirl Sunnah Khan at Bournemouth Beach in May. Sunnah’s mum, Stephanie Williams, lives in Mr Butler’s constituency and was in Parliament to hear the debate.

It’s thought there was a rip current in Bournemouth, and Mr Butler set out in his speech advice from the Royal Life Saving Society.

He said:

“Rip currents are water that flows from the shoreline back out to sea; the advice to escape them is to try to swim parallel to the shore until out of the current, and then head back to the shore.”

Mr Butler also stressed the need for more warnings about rip currents at seaside resorts, especially with so many local people about to head for their holidays. He said:

“One way to alert children and adults about risks of rip currents would be with increased provision of signs at the beach. After all, if you see a sign immediately before entering the water, the advice will be very fresh in the mind.  The RNLI does have a standard sign that can be used to warn about rip currents and I’ve been pleased to learn that it is used in many places, but there is undoubtedly scope for even more prominent displays of warnings.

Mr Butler suggested that visibility of swimmers could be improved by wearing brightly-coloured swimwear, so that people can be easily identified in the water in the case of an emergency.

He added:

“There is a strong case for water safety to be taught to children in particular, and the obvious place to do so is at school. Worryingly, the Royal Life Saving Society reports that children from low-income and ethnically diverse households are particularly less likely to access statutory school swimming”.

Rob ended his speech by quoting Stephanie Williams, who had told him:

““We can do better; there’s no need for this to keep happening; it’s preventable; if we teach it at school, we are setting them up for a lifetime of safe water.”

World Drowning Prevention Day is on July 25th, 2023